In the German Museum of Romanticism in Frankfurt, 175 years after the first publication of Zdravljica, an exhibition about France Prešern (1800-1849) and Luiza Pesjak (1928-1898) is on display.
The exhibition is organized by NUK in cooperation with the Slovenian Cultural Center (SKICA) Berlin and the mentioned museum with the support of the Ministry of Culture. The audio experience of the song was provided by Program Ars and ZKP RTV.
The city of Goethe’s birth and youth is hosting plenty of Slovenian cultural events and exhibitions this year. Slovenia will be the guest of honor in mid-October Frankfurt Book Fair. Until November 25, the letters, translations and manuscripts of the poet France Prešeren are on display in the German Museum of Romanticism, which was opened only two years ago, along with a presentation of his life.
At the opening of the German museum two years ago, he was the head of the Slovenian Cultural Center Berlin Saša Šavel Burkart knew that it also included an exhibition about France Prešern (especially before Slovenia’s visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair). That is why she took the initiative for it, which the director of the museum, prof. dr. Anne Bohnenkamp-Renker gladly accepted. Slovenians think that they know Prešeren abroad, but this is not true, explains Saša Šavel Burkart: “In the West, the Slovenian period of romanticism is a gray spot on the map of this important period, which was actually a pan-European phenomenon. The opening of this museum in 2021 coincided with the publication of the book Romanticism a Pan-European Phenomenon, in which the author Rüdiger Göner questions whether romanticism was a purely German or perhaps not a pan-European phenomenon.”
Prešeren also wrote in GermanThe European dimension is only less well known, especially in Germany. Museum director Anne Bohnenkamp says: “Since I am convinced that Romanticism is a European epoch, it has been important to me from the very beginning to complement our permanent exhibition with views of European Romanticism. I knew about Slovenian literature from Goethe’s period, and I was especially familiar with Goethe’s contacts with Slovenian linguist Jerne Kopitar , and during the preparation of the exhibition, I then learned a lot about France Prešern and about the combination of the wonderful implementation of Romanesque literary traditions, which is reflected, for example, in the form of a sonnet, and – which I did not find surprising, I expected – the role in the development of the self-image of Slovenians as a national culture. This connection is very interesting. At the same time, I did not realize that Prešeren wrote not only in Slovenian, but also in German, which is of course wonderful for the exhibition we are showing in Frankfurt.”
The author of the exhibition, Prof. dr. Igor Grdina explains that Prešeren is understood as one of the essential poets of the European romantic movement, which perceived the creative SELF as a key shaper of modernity and history. This is dictated by his presentation in connection with other romantics or creators who were important to them, and by pointing out his exceptionalities. In any context.
Luiza Pesjak: more than just Prešeren’s studentThe exhibition also contains a feminist note with a depiction of life and work Luiza Pesjak. Co-author of the exhibition prof. dr. Urška Perenič about Pesjakova, she says that, on the one hand, she is presented as the poet’s student and admirer, also the author of the tragedy about Prešeren, and on the other hand, as a sovereign and self-contained, bilingual, German-Slovenian creator, who, after being encouraged by Prešeren, joined the group of poets Sappho, embarked on her literary journey and entered the history of German-Slovenian literature in Carniola not only as the author of the first Slovenian family novel in the form of a diary, but also as a brilliant children’s poet: “With this, she is rightfully placed within the framework of the Central European bourgeois artistic style of Biedermeier. That she has found her temporary home in Frankfurt next to the great Prešeren is a great honor, and I imagine she would be incredibly happy about it.”
Exhibition coordinator Dr. Ines Vodopivec tells that more than a year passed from the first initiative by the Slovenian Cultural Center in Berlin to the positive support from the German Museum of Romanticism and the substantive concept of the two authors, then the preparation of all materials and the design of the exhibition in the National and University Libraries. Of course, we should not forget the support of the Ministry of Culture, which also encouraged inter-institutional cooperation, so that the Ars Radio Slovenia Program joined the project and contributed audio recordings of selected Prešeren songs in German. All texts of the exhibition were translated into German by the National and University Library, German transcriptions of selected exhibited works were prepared, and at the same time a German monograph with facsimiles of Prešernova was published in NUK Cheers, which visitors will be able to purchase at the exhibition itself or later at NUK.
An anthem with a unique message“I was very happy to see this stanza, which is now the national anthem of the Slovenes. Verses from this great song have been collected for the national anthem, which focuses on the peaceful coexistence of European nations. It made me very happy,” adds Dr. Anne Bohnenkamp. Since March 2020, Zdravljica has been a sign of European heritage, as the European Commission classified it as one of the most important monuments that bear witness to the history of the European idea and integration.
Slovenian culture, including contemporary culture, is currently well represented in Germany, especially in Frankfurt am Main before the book fair.